The Gambia'S 2006 Presidential Election: Change Or Continuity?
On Friday, September 22, 2006, Gambians voted in the third presidential election since soldier-turned-civilian-president Yahya Jammeh came to power in a bloodless 1994 coup d'état. President Jammeh's ruling party defeated two separate, though ideologically and programmatically similar, political/party alliances. Notwithstanding, the 2006 presidential election has not appreciably moved The Gambia any closer to a more democratic political culture. The election resulted instead in the consolidation of authoritarian rule under Jammeh. Clearly, disunity within the opposition eroded both its popularity and credibility and irreversibly changed the dynamics of the election in Jammeh's favor. Jammeh is in a position to use his “mandate” and “victory” to widen political participation, undertake genuine reconciliation, root out corruption, investigate mounting deaths, protect press freedoms, and put the economy on a course to mend itself. But this seems unlikely, given his proclivity for press repression and a lack of commitment to bettering the lives of ordinary Gambians.